Understanding the Pedagogical Climate that impacts Girls’ Career Pathway into Sport and Exercise Science
Our purpose and people
The ‘Girls to Women in Sports Science’ Network provides a facilitative and exploratory space to discuss pedagogical and coaching strategies, career advice approaches and professional practice tools which can be influential in supporting positive educational climate change, to inspire and encourage more girls to view sport and exercise science as a viable career pathway.
Our UK network includes teachers, researchers and sports industry practitioners who are experts in engaging with girls and women through sport and physical activity. Through our collaboration, we seek to establish best pedagogical practice in primary, secondary and higher education and in coaching practice outside the formal educational environment, which helps breaks down gender stereotypes and institutional bias to enhance opportunity and inspire confidence in young girls through physical activity, thereby supporting young women progressing into careers in sports science.
Through our own pilot research and exploration of existing research, it is evident that there is gender inequality in STEMM subjects and specifically those children selecting GCSE Sport Studies and A-level or equivalent courses, and undergraduate programmes entitled ‘Sport(s) Science.’ Across the UK, females account for less than a third of those choosing sport-related courses. We know that significant numbers of girls disengage with sport in the transition from primary to secondary school and during puberty (Women in Sport / Sport England 2022) and the latter coincides for many students with the time when they are choosing options. The Women in Sport initiative to tackle teenage disengagement shows that drop-out from sport has a negative affect upon girls physical and mental health; not only will this impact upon lifelong health but also upon girls choice of educational course. As a result, the proportion of young women progressing into graduate careers in sports science is lower.
Our project aims
Our project aims to explore how and what action can be taken before disengagement occurs and impacts upon healthy and lifelong choices for girls and young women. Our background research suggests that the factors influencing a girls’ engagement with physical activity and the impact upon a sport-related career pathway are complex but confirms that a collaborative approach between all influential parties is required to impact change.
Our project objectives
Expand our understanding of the language required to foster an engaging climate for primary and secondary girls in order to reduce disengagement with sport and physical activity
Understand how to inspire girls and young women through appropriate pedagogical and coaching techniques to optimse lifelong physical and mental health and empower them to pursue a career in sport and exercise science
Encourage dialogue in the classroom and on the sports field between girls and boys to develop understanding of gender inequality and challenge gender stereotypes and issues of discrimination in relation to sport and exercise science
Our impact targets
Increase the proportion of girls choosing Sport Studies options at year 9/10 (age 13-15 years) and A-levels (age 16-18 years) in sport-related subjects
Improve the recruitment into sports science-related undergraduate programmes and the proportion of young women achieving good honours degrees in sport science programmes
Optimise potential for employability and see more women in graduate-level sports science positions
Our impact outcomes
Engage and empower the key influencers (i.e. parents / guardians, school / teachers, friends, coaches, careers advisors) in creating the right environment for girls to enjoy sport and view sport science as a potential career pathway
Drive innovation and agree impactful solutions that can be delivered as a CPD toolkit for influential networks (E.g. primary and secondary schools, colleges, Universities and sports providers) to proliferate change throughout the UK.
If you are interested in joining our Girls to Women in Sport Science Network or in our projects, please contact Dr Mistrelle Ellmore.